How the Baltimore bridge collapse could impact the economy

How the Baltimore bridge collapse could impact the economy

Investigators looking into the cargo ship’s history have found it was involved in a crash just a few years ago. ABC News live anchor Terry Moran has those details. This is the moment that the 95,000-ton cargo ship, the Dolly, was getting perilously close to Baltimore’s Francis Scott Key bridge. You can see the power flicker on and off seconds before disaster.

Now, the urgent investigation into how the crash occurred and if the crew could have done anything more to avoid it. ABC News has obtained records showing the Dolly, built in 2015, had at least two documented issues in the past.

A June 2023 inspection found a deficiency for propulsion and auxiliary machinery concerning gauges, thermometers, etc. In 2016, after the ship was involved in a previous crash in Belgium, inspectors issued a deficiency for structural conditions concerning hull damage impairing seaworthiness.

As for the Baltimore bridge, that 1.6-mile-long span opened in 1977. Experts say it was likely not designed to withstand a crash like the one that occurred.

Once the pier is hit, it just falls vertically down, which would give every indication that either the boat knocked the bridge off of its supports so it lost the support that way or literally destroyed the first concrete pier and lost the support altogether.

In this satellite photo, you can see the protective piers on the power lines running parallel to the bridge clearly visible. But Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg at a press conference on the scene was skeptical piers would have made any difference.

“I do not know of a bridge that has been constructed to withstand a direct impact from a vessel of this size.”

850,000 cars and trucks flowed into the Port of Baltimore last year, making it the nation’s busiest for US auto imports. Facing the possibility of a prolonged shutdown, the big three automakers are diverting shipments to other ports as needed.

Our thanks to Terry Moran for that report. That bridge collapse is also disrupting transportation and shipping. The Port of Baltimore is the ninth busiest for foreign cargo in the US, and the Francis Scott Key Bridge carried tens of thousands of vehicles a day.

So, what does this all mean for the economy? Business reporter Alexis Christoforous joins me now for more on that.

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